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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lorin Wright's Map


Earl Findley and John McMahon visited with the Wright family at Hawthorn Hill in 1915 for a number of weeks, interviewing the family members, gathering information with the intent to publish a book on the accomplishments of Wilbur and Orville Wright. Unfortunately, for Earl and John, the manuscript of 6 months work was reviewed by Orville Wright, and was rejected, bringing an end to the project. In later years, John McMahon published the material in a number of magazine articles, and then complied the information in his book "The Wright Brothers" against Orville's wishes. For more on this subject, read my blog "Orville Wright's criticism of John McMahon's book 'The Wright Brothers: Fathers of Flight'".
In "The Bishop's Boys", Tom Crouch writes , pg 475-76- "For...Findley, access to the historic letters, diaries, journals, and photos stored in the laboratory on North Broadway was through Miss Beck. She knew the story, and the materials, as well as Orville did.......In 1915, at the very beginning of their friendship, Orville agreed to allow (Earl) Findley and a young friend, John R. McMahon, to prepare a biography of the Wright brothers. They visited Dayton, interviewed Orville, Milton, and Katharine at length, and were given limited access to the papers. They worked for six months on a first draft, which Findley mailed to Orville. Confined to bed with back pain, Orville thought the manuscript entirely too personal and chatty....." Pg 517, "McMahon, who had more interest in publishing than in preserving a friendly relationship with Orville, stewed over the rebuff for fourteen years. Finally, in 1929, he submitted a rewritten version as a series of articles, "The Real Fathers of Flight", to Popular Science Monthly. The following year he brought out a slightly altered version as a book, The Wright Brothers: Fathers of Flight." Pg 518, "Orville's disgust with the book was deep and unrelenting...he received a copy from a distant relative asking him to autograph it....he refused, keeping the book and sending an autographed photo of the first flight instead...."

Milton Wright wrote of the visit in his diary:
Diaries 1857-1917 Bishop Milton Wright, WSU-
  • 1915, Thursday, July 15 "Mr. Earl N. Findley, of N.Y. Tribune and Mr. Jus. R. McMahon came home with Orville, on morning train. They dined with us."
  • Saturday, July 24 "Earl Findley and John McMahon have been with us since the 15th. 
  • Monday, July 26 "Orville went to New York. In the evening, Katharine and Mr. Findley and Mr. McMahon went to Lorin's, and came home at 9:25." 
(Possibly during this visit with Lorin, Findley and McMahon obtained the ink drawn map prepared by Lorin, showing previous homes of the Wright family, and travel locations of Bishop Wright's ministry.) 

The ink drawing shows States of Oregon, Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio, with hometowns indicated of Wright residences. Notes in pencil are by another hand, and indicate names and dates. On the reverse side of this document, a Family Tree provides information of Wright genealogy with notes by John McMahon as he refers to sections of his book. The paper watermark reads "Flexo Loose Leaf Ledger". 

1915 Ink drawn map by Lorin Wright, showing Wright family home locations, provided to Earl Findley and John McMahon.

"This Map was made by Lorin Wright (brother of Orville) at Dayton, O, in 1915 for use of Messrs. Findley and McMahon in writing their history."

Oregon map with note "Bishop was missionary 1857-59 Willamette Valley"

Iowa map showing Cedar Rapids and note "Family moved here 1878-81". McMahon also notes, referencing his book, "P.153 The Wright Brothers, Father's farm, sold in 1900 half of it, 160 acres, sold for $5,000, gift to Wilbur & Orville. It financed airplane invention." This note is misleading, as the brothers only invested $1000 for their research up to 1903.

Indiana map showing birthplace of Wilbur and Lorin Wright, and other notes of family history.
Portion of Ohio map showing Dayton, and Simms Station (Huffman Prairie) 8 miles to the east. Notes read "Came to Dayton 1869- left 1878 for Cedar Rapids, Ia 3 yrs." And also "Family moved back to Dayton May or June 1884."

Reverse side of map drawn by Lorin Wright shows Wright Family Tree. The Family Tree information was likely written by John McMahon sometime between 1926 to early 1929 in preparation for his book. It doesn't list Reuchlin's date of death. McMahon's book also does not list Reuchlin's date of death. Reuchlin died in 1920, and McMahon would not have had access to the family for information after 1915. Katharine's death date of 1929 was added later (ink is different). Ink of marriage to Henry Haskell in 1926 is same as ink for Katharine's birth date, so again, evidence that McMahon wrote this Family Tree information between 1926 and early 1929.

 Recommended resources for more information:
  • Ohio Home of the Wright Brothers- The Genealogical Chronicle of an Ohio Pioneer Family and the Invention of the Airplane, 1776-1948- Louis Chmiel, 2013
  • The Bishop's Boys, Tom Crouch, 1989, Chapters 1-6 

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